The film 'Camino' follows five pilgrims as they hike from southern France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The trek takes about 30 days.

CNS PHOTO | COURTESY CAMINODOCUMENTARY.ORG

The film 'Camino' follows five pilgrims as they hike from southern France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The trek takes about 30 days.

June 9, 2014
MARK PATTISON
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

The famed 800-kilometre "Camino" trek from southern France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, takes pilgrims about a month or a bit more, depending on the pace, the pilgrim's fitness, any hurts sustained along the way, sightseeing and the like.

But bringing a film about the Camino to viewers took filmmaker Lydia Smith five years.

Smith did her filming in the spring of 2009 on a shoestring budget of $30,000. Since then, she's racked up $150,000 in debt for all of the editing, postproduction and publicity needs surrounding her documentary, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.

She thought she had a deal with PBS to air her film in late 2011, but that would have required $85,000 in what Smith called "airing fees" that she didn't have.

As it is, Smith rented a bus that's taken her across the U.S. Her hope is to raise enough money in each city along the way to pay for the costs of screening a film in the next city on the itinerary.

In New York City, it will cost $9,000 to rent one screen for a week to show Walking the Camino when it debuts June 6.

After a May 22 preview in Washington, Smith said she had walked the Camino herself in 2008.

When she went back a year later, she filmed a large number of pilgrims making the trek. "some of them you love, some of them not so much. But when you see them in Santiago at the end, you love them again," Smith said.

When Smith "made the Camino," she did so as a pilgrim, not as an advance scout for making a documentary film. In fact, she added, she resisted that idea. "It was so sacred to me," she said.

When she was convinced to make the movie, she found out someone else was making his own film about the Camino: Emilio Estevez, directing his father, Martin Sheen, in the feature film The Way, which was released in 2011.

"We were both looking for financing," Smith said. "They got the funding. I didn't."

Santiago de Compostela has been a pilgrimage site for 1,200 years since what are believed to be the remains of St. James were discovered there.

Smith chose the pilgrims who made the final cut of Walking the Camino for their geographic diversity: American, Canadian, Portuguese, French and a Brazilian-Briton. Though it wasn't a prerequisite, all finished the journey; about 20 per cent of the many thousands who set out each year don't, Smith said.

More information about the film can be found at caminodocumentary.org.